Inside the magical Mumbai park where cricketing heroes and dreams are made

Cricket as a religion may be a tired trope, but it’s a way of life in Mumbai, says Cameron Ponsonby. Here, he tells the fascinating story of the place where rich meets poor and current superstar cricketer Yashasvi Jaiswal lived in a tent as a child before he was discovered...

Wednesday 06 March 2024 07:48 GMT
Off the bat: locals gather to play games at the Azad Maidan sport ground
Off the bat: locals gather to play games at the Azad Maidan sport ground (Getty)

Rishabh, a lad in his early twenties, has his pads on and is next up to bat. We’re in the heart of Mumbai at Cross Maidan, one of the few public cricket grounds – and green spaces too – that exist in this intensely busy city.

Today, a pretty average work match is taking place at one end, while in the middle of the ground, a glut of four matches on top of each other are underway, all of which are “open age-group” matches and being played at a high standard. 

A young lad with a perfect action draws a false shot from the high-elbowed batter, who takes a diving catch as he flings himself forward, shredding his elbows in the process.

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